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California State Motorcycle Laws


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California Motorcycle Laws ..............

A Summary

 

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Featured Code:

 

 

I have summarized all the sections of the California Vehicle Code that mention motorcycles (well, almost; I left out crap like dealer training requirements). Frankly, the majority of codes fall under one of two categories: "No, duh!" and Who cares?" Did you know a farm tractor is not a motorcycle? No, duh! Did you know that the boots of a motorcycle cop shall remain the property of the state? Who cares! And so it goes.

 

Because the code is excruciatingly tedious to read, I did a major chop job to make it readable. And because I was getting punch drunk from reading so much legal garbage, I got my revenge by doing a send-up at the end of each code. My contributions are restricted to section (z).

 

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. Before you stand in front of the judge and flame off, be sure to refer to the California Vehicle Code for the proper wording on the sections that concern you. Never trust someone else's word unless you're paying them $200/hour. And even then...

 

 

Can't find a law? If you can't find what you're looking for here, try the Judicial Roulette page.

That's where I guess how a police officer will respond to a "motorcycle issue" that isn't clearly spelled out in the California Vehicle Code (like that pesky lane-splitting business).

 

26301.5. Every passenger vehicle manufactured and first registered after January 1, 1973, except motorcycles, shall be equipped with an emergency brake system so constructed that rupture or leakage-type failure of any single pressure component of the service brake system shall not result in complete loss of function of the vehicle's brakes when force on the brake pedal is continued.

(z) Motorcyclists may drag their feet on the ground should all brakes fail.

26311. (a) Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with service brakes on all wheels, except as follows:

(B) Any sidecar attached to a motorcycle.

© Any motorcycle manufactured prior to 1966. Such motorcycle shall be equipped with brakes on at least one wheel.

(z) Any motorcycle manufactured prior to 1940. Such motorcycle shall get a prize for even running.

26450. Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with a service brake system and every motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, shall be equipped with a parking brake system.

(z) Motorcyclists shall park on hot asphalt when at all possible to take advantage of this readily-available parking brake system.

 

California Motorcycle Safety Fund

2931. A motorcyclist safety program is hereby established in the Department of the California Highway Patrol, to be administered by the commissioner.

(z) As a part of the safety program, minivan drivers will be specially instructed on how not to take their eyes off the road when slapping at rowdy underaged passengers while dialing a cell phone.

2932. The commissioner may do all of the following:

(a) Provide financial or other support to projects aimed at enhancing motorcycle operation or safety.

(B) Sponsor and coordinate efforts aimed at increasing motorists' awareness of motorcyclists.

© Sponsor research into effective communication techniques to reach all highway users on matters of motorcyclist safety.

(d) Establish an advisory committee of persons to assist in the establishment of a comprehensive program of motorcycle safety.

(e) Adopt standards for course content, contact hours, curriculum, instructor training and testing, and instructional quality control, and setting forth a maximum amount for course fees for the novice rider training course specified in subdivision (g) of Section 12804.9.

(z) Acknowledge the utter futility of (B) and ©.

2934. (a) The California Motorcyclist Safety Fund is hereby created in the State Treasury.

(z) The fund will be kept in a clean coffee can located under the commissioner's desk.

2935. The Department of Motor Vehicles shall collect a fee of two dollars ($2) upon initial registration and renewal of registration of every motorcycle. These additional fees shall be deposited in the California Motorcyclist Safety Fund.

(z) The fees may also be deposited into an elected official's personal bank account on an as-needed basis.

2938. This article shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2003, and as of that date is repealed unless a later enacted statute deletes or extends that date. (z) In summary, after January 1, 1998, nothing will change for motorcyclists.

 

Carpool Lanes

21655.5. (B) The Department of Transportation and local authorities, with respect to highways under their respective jurisdictions, shall place and maintain, or cause to be placed and maintained, signs and other official traffic control devices to designate the exclusive or preferential lanes, to advise motorists of the applicable vehicle occupancy levels, and, except where ramp metering and bypass lanes are regulated with the activation of traffic signals, to advise motorists of the hours of high-occupancy vehicle usage. No person shall drive a vehicle upon those lanes except in conformity with the instructions imparted by the official traffic control devices. A motorcycle may be operated upon those exclusive or preferential use lanes unless specifically prohibited by a traffic control device.

(z) Traffic control devices include, but are not limited to, ladders, mattresses, dunnage and rolls of carpeting.

 

 

 

Definition of a Motorcycle

400. (a) A "motorcycle" is any motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground, and weighing less than 1,500 pounds.

<b> A motor vehicle that has four wheels in contact with the ground, two of which are a functional part of a sidecar, is a motorcycle if the vehicle otherwise comes within the definition of subdivision (a).

© A motor vehicle that is electrically powered, has a maximum speed of 45 miles per hour, and weighs less than 2,500 pounds, is a motorcycle if the vehicle otherwise comes within the definition of subdivision (a).

(d) A farm tractor is not a motorcycle. (e) A motor vehicle that has an enclosed seating area for the driver and passenger, and is used by local public agencies for the enforcement of parking control provisions, is not a motorcycle.

(z) The fact that (d) or (e) needed to be clarified is hereby officially noted as frightening.

 

 

27801. No person shall drive any two-wheel motorcycle:

(a) Equipped with a seat so positioned that the driver, when sitting astride the seat, cannot reach the ground with his feet.

(B) Equipped with handlebars so positioned that the hands of the driver, when upon the grips, are at or above his shoulder height when sitting astride the seat.

(z) Equipped with a gas tank so positioned that the driver, when smoking and driving, blows up.

 

Engine Replacement

4161. (a) Whenever a motor vehicle engine or motor is installed, the owner of the motor vehicle shall, within 10 days thereafter, give notice to the department upon a form furnished by it containing a description of the motor vehicle engine or motor installed.

© Whenever an application is made to the department to register a replacement engine case for any motorcycle, the department shall request the Department of the California Highway Patrol to inspect the motorcycle to determine its proper identity. If the replacement engine case bears the same identifying numbers as the engine case being replaced, the original engine case shall be destroyed.

 

 

Golf Carts as Motorcycles

24001.5. A golf cart as defined in Section 345 shall only be subject to the provisions of this division which are applicable to a motorcycle.

(z) A golf cart driver shall be automatically assigned a lifetime, irrevocable M1 license if said driver is able to bank the cart onto two wheels for a distance of no less than 50 yards.

 

Helmet Use

27802. (B) No person shall sell for use by a driver or passenger of a motorcycle any safety helmet which is not of a type meeting requirements established by the department.

(z) Foam-lined mixing bowls and plaster turbans are currently under evaluation on Vespa-riding crash test dummies.

27803. (a) A driver and any passenger shall wear a safety helmet when riding on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle. © It is unlawful to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle, motor-driven cycles, or motorized bicycle if the driver or any passenger is not wearing a safety helmet as required by subdivision (a).

(e) For the purposes of this section, "wear a safety helmet" or "wearing a safety helmet" means having a safety helmet on the person's head that is fastened with the helmet straps and that is of a size that fits the wearing person's head securely without excessive lateral or vertical movement.

(z) Any cop who can detect excessive lateral or vertical movement in a rider's helmet will be immediately promoted to captain.

 

Ignition Lock

23575. (a) (1) In addition to any other provisions of law, the court may require that any person convicted of a first offense violation of Section 23152 or 23153 [DUI] to install a certified ignition interlock device on any vehicle that the person owns or operates and prohibit that person from operating a motor vehicle unless that vehicle is equipped with a functioning, certified ignition interlock device.

(B) For purposes of this section, "vehicle" does not include a motorcycle until the state certifies an ignition interlock device that can be installed on a motorcycle. Any person subject to an ignition interlock device restriction shall not operate a motorcycle for the duration of the ignition interlock device restriction period.

(z) Sitting idly in a sidecar without an ignition interlock is permissible under Section 23246.

 

 

 

 

License Plates

4850 (a) The department, upon registering a motorcycle, shall issue to the owner one partially or fully reflectorized license plate.

(z) Whether the plate ends up being partially or fully reflectorized depends on the condition of the rain forest at the time of plate manufacturing.

4852 Motorcycle license plates shall measure seven inches in length and four inches in width, and the characters on the plates shall have a minimum height of one and one-half inches and a minimum width of nine-sixteenths inches, and shall have a minimum spacing between characters of three-sixteenths of an inch.

(z) The shape of a motorcycle plate is not provided, as the License Plate Design Committee was participating in a team-building seminar during the formalization of this specific code.

5004.5 Any owner of a motorcycle manufactured in the year 1942 or prior thereto shall be issued special license plates for the motorcycle.

(z) The year 1942 was selected after intensive historical research and a brief consultation with a Ouija board.

5060 Special interest license plates authorized under this article may be issued for use on a motorcycle. That license plate shall contain a five digit configuration issued in sequential numerical order or, pursuant to Section 5103, in a combination of numbers or letters. There shall be a space to the left of the numerical series for a distinctive design or decal and the characters shall contrast sharply with the uniform background color. No motorcycle plate containing a full plate graphic design is authorized. Those particular special interest license plates that were issued prior to the discontinuation provided by this paragraph may continue to be used and attached to the vehicle for which they were issued and may be renewed, retained, or transferred pursuant to this code.

5061 (a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if the department permits the issuance of a special interest license plate for display on a motorcycle, the department shall not approve any design for that plate that incorporates either or both of the following:

<b> Any special interest license plate issued for display on a motorcycle is subject to the same fees that are collected for the issuance and retention of special interest license plates on other vehicles.

5101.3 (a) Any Pearl Harbor survivor may apply for special license plates which shall run in a separate numerical series and shall contain the words "Pearl Harbor Survivor." The plates may be issued for any vehicle, except a vehicle used for transportation for hire, compensation, or profit, or a motorcycle.

(z) After intensive testing with various type sizes, the License Plate Design Committee determined there was no way to fit "Pearl Harbor Survivor" onto a smaller plate.

 

Licensing

12804.9 The examination shall include all of the following:

(A) A test of the applicant's knowledge and understanding of the provisions of this code.

(B) A test of the applicant's ability to read and understand simple English used in highway traffic and directional signs.

© A test of the applicant's understanding of traffic signs and signals.

(D) An actual demonstration of the applicant's ability to exercise ordinary and reasonable control in operating a motor vehicle by driving it under the supervision of an examining officer.

(E) Class C does not include any two-wheel motorcycle or any two-wheel motor-driven cycle.

(F) Class M1. Any two-wheel motorcycle or motor-driven cycle. Authority to operate vehicles included in a class M1 license may be granted by endorsement on a class A, B, or C license upon completion of an appropriate examination.

(i) No person under the age of 21 years shall be issued a class M1 or M2 license or endorsement unless he or she provides evidence satisfactory to the department of completion of a motorcycle safety training program that is operated pursuant to Article 2 (commencing with Section 2930) of Chapter 5 of Division 2.

(k) A class M license issued between January 1, 1989, and December 31, 1992, shall permit the holder to operate any motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle until the expiration of the license.

(z) Failing a riding test on a 250cc beater has been clinically proven to cause less shame than failing on a $10K sportbike.

12500 No person shall drive any motorcycle, motor-driven cycle, or motorized bicycle upon a highway, unless the person holds a valid driver's license or endorsement issued under this code for that class.

(z) Physically holding another person's license is not the correct interpretation of subdivision (a).

12509 The department may issue a motorcycle instruction permit to any physically and mentally qualified person who meets the following requirements: (a) Any person who is age 17 years and 6 months or over may, in addition to operating a motor vehicle, also operate a motorcycle, except that such person shall not operate a motorcycle or a motorized bicycle during hours of darkness, shall stay off any freeways which have full control of access and no crossings at grade, and shall not carry any passenger except a qualified instructor.

(z) Any instructor willing to ride with a trainee shall be issued a Medal of Valor.

 

Lights

24253 All motorcycles manufactured and first registered after January 1, 1971, shall be equipped so all taillamps, when turned on, will remain lighted automatically for a period of at least one-quarter hour if the engine stops.

(z) Should the taillamps remain lit on a motorcycle with a stopped engine, it is recommended that the rider move away from the motorcycle before it is plowed into by a drunk driver or by someone searching for a cassette tape on the floor of his or her car.

24400 During darkness, every motor vehicle other than a motorcycle shall be equipped with at least two lighted headlamps.

(z) Possession of one burned out headlamp is acceptable as long as the driver feels remorse over its nonfunctionality.

24603 Every motor vehicle shall at all times be equipped with stoplamps mounted on the rear as follows:

Every such vehicle, other than a motorcycle, shall be equipped with two stoplamps.

24606 Every motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, shall be equipped with one or more backup lamps either separately or in combination with another lamp.

(z) Motorcyclists moving in reverse fast enough for a backup light to matter will be cited for unbridled stupidity.

24607 Every vehicle, other than a motorcycle, shall be equipped with at least two reflectors meeting the visibility requirements.

(z) As motorcycles are never seen in the first place, reflectors are moot.

24951 Motorcycles manufactured and first registered on or after January 1, 1973 shall be equipped with a lamp-type turn signal system.

(z) As with motorists, use of these lamps may be entirely ignored at the rider's discretion.

25251 Any motorcycle may be equipped with a means of modulating the upper beam of the headlamp between a high and a lower brightness at a rate of 200 to 280 flashes per minute. Such headlamps shall not be so modulated during darkness.

(z) The exception is if the rider has been drinking; in such cases, the flickering light will act as a warning to others that the rider is about to deposit a wide swath of DNA on the road surface.

25451 Any motorcycle equipped with one lighted acetylene headlamp complies with the provisions of this code concerning lighted headlamps on motorcycles when the acetylene headlamp is fitted with a clear plane glass front and a bright six-inch spherical mirror and a standard acetylene one-half or five-eighths foot burner, projecting sufficient light ahead to reveal any vehicle, person, or substantial object upon the roadway within a distance of 115 feet.

(z) Riders of such motorcycles may also use a krank style rotary-dial phone while riding.

25650 Every motorcycle during darkness shall be equipped with at least one and not more than two lighted headlamps.

(z) Riders with a third functional eye will be allowed a third lighted headlamp, so long as the condition is validated by a practicing licensed opthamologist or optometrist.

25650 Every motorcycle manufactured and first registered on and after January 1, 1978, shall be equipped with at least one and not more than two headlamps which automatically turn on when the engine of the motorcycle is started and which remain lighted as long as the engine is running.

(z) Those who disconnect this feature will be cited or will broadside a car that turns directly in front of them, whichever comes first.

 

Mirrors

26709 Every motorcycle subject to registration in this state shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least 200 feet to the rear of such vehicle. Every motor vehicle, except a motorcycle, shall be equipped with not less than two such mirrors, including one affixed to the left-hand side.

(z) Up to 95% obscuring of a rear view mirror by a motorcyclist's arm and elbow is permissible.

 

Motorcycle-Only Road

527 "Road" means any existing vehicle route established before January 1, 1979, with significant evidence of prior regular travel by vehicles, provided that "road" does not mean any route traversed exclusively by bicycles, motorcycles, motor-driven, or off-highway motor vehicles.

(z) Should anyone encounter a road traversed exclusively by motorcycles, immediately alert the press.

 

Moving Vehicles, Attaching to

1203 No person riding upon any motorcycle, motorized bicycle, bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, or toy vehicle shall attach the same or himself to any streetcar or vehicle on the roadway.

(z) Microwave carts and unicycles are acceptable until such time an accident occurs and the State of California is held liable for not including these items on the list.

21712 No person shall knowingly drive a motor vehicle which is towing any person riding upon any motorcycle, motorized bicycle, bicycle, coaster, roller skates, sled, skis, or toy vehicle.

(z) Dollies and shopping carts are acceptable until such time an accident occurs and the State of California is held liable for not including these items on the list.

 

Noise Restrictions

23130 No person shall operate a motor vehicle under any condition of grade, load, acceleration, or deceleration in such a manner as to exceed the following noise limit for the category of motor vehicle within the speed limits specified in this section:

Any motorcycle other than a motor-driven cycle at a speed limit of 45 or less..... 82 dbA. Any motorcycle other than a motor-driven cycle at a speed limit of 45 or more..... 86 dbA.

The noise limits established by this section shall be based on a distance of 50 feet from the center of the lane of travel within the speed limit specified in this section. The Department of the California Highway Patrol may provide for measuring at distances other than 50 feet from the center of the lane of travel. In such a case, the measurement shall be corrected so as to provide for measurements equivalent to the noise limit established by this section measured at 50 feet.

(z) 86 dbA is equivalent to the sound of a scream emanating from a rider being cut off by a driver swerving for an offramp from two lanes out.

23130.5.

(a) The noise limits, within a speed zone of 35 miles per hour or less on level streets, or streets with a grade not exceeding plus or minus 1 percent, shall be:

Any motorcycle other than a motor-driven cycle..... 77 dbA

(z) 77 dbA is equivalent to the sound of a scream emanating from a rider caught behind a dump truck which has just lost a 12 'x 12' sheet of cardboard.

27150 The manufacturers of motorcycles and motorcycle accessories shall certify to the department that the exhaust system is in compliance with the standards and regulations adopted by the commissioner.

(z) Notarized documentation stating "Sounds okay, smells okay" is not acceptable.

27200 The Department of Motor Vehicles shall not register on a dealer's report of sale a new motor vehicle which produces a maximum noise exceeding the applicable noise limit at a distance of 50 feet from the centerline of travel under test procedures established by the Department of the California Highway Patrol.

(z) The Department of Motor Vehicle will probably not be able to distinguish a vehicle that exceeds the noise limit from a hole in the wall.

27201 For the purposes of Section 27200, the noise limit of 92 dbA shall apply to any motorcycle manufactured before 1970. (z) For purposes of Section 27200, the noise limit of 1,200 dbA shall apply to any motorcycle manufactured before 1876.

27202 For the purposes of Section 27200, the following noise limits shall apply to any motorcycle, other than a motor-driven cycle, manufactured:

(1) After 1969, and before 1973..... 88 dbA

(2) After 1972, and before 1975..... 86 dbA

(3) After 1974, and before 1986..... 83 dbA

(4) After 1985..... 80 dbA

(z) Every year thereafter, deduct 10 dbA until everyone is forced to ride a moped.

 

Off Highway Vehicles

38010 Every motor vehicle specified in Section 38012 that is not registered under this code because it is to be operated or used exclusively off the highways shall be issued and display an identification plate or device issued by the department.

Subdivision (a) does not apply to any of the following: Any motorcycle manufactured in the year 1942 or prior.

 

 

Parking

22502 Motorcycles shall be parked with at least one wheel or fender touching the right-hand curb. Where no curbs or barriers bound any two-way roadway, right-hand parallel parking is required unless otherwise indicated.

Upon a one-way roadway, motorcycles, if parked on the left-hand side, shall have either one wheel or one fender touching such curb. Where no curb or barriers bound any such one-way roadway, parallel parking on either side is required unless otherwise indicated.

(z) Where no picket fence bound a lawn, motorcyclists may park on the lawn as long as one wheel touches a hedge.

 

Pocket Bikes

473 A "pocket bike" is a two-wheeled motorized device that has a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, and that is not designed or manufactured for highway use. "Pocket bike" does not include an off-highway motorcycle, as defined in Section 436.

(z) If the rider looks like a monkey humping a two-wheeled football, he or she is on a pocket bike.

21720 A pocket bike shall not be operated on a sidewalk, roadway, or any other part of a highway, or on a bikeway, bicycle path or trail, equestrian trail, hiking or recreational trail, or on public lands open to off-highway motor vehicle use.

21721 A peace officer may cause the removal and seizure of a pocket bike, upon the notice to appear for a violation of Section 21720. A pocket bike so seized shall be held for a minimum of 48 hours.

 

(z) Again, if the rider looks like a monkey humping a two-wheeled football, he or she is on a pocket bike.

 

Used Police Vehicles

27604 When a motor vehicle formerly used in law enforcement is sold to any person and is used for purposes other than law enforcement, the vehicle shall be painted or partially painted by the seller or agency formerly using such vehicle so that it will no longer resemble a law enforcement vehicle. The provisions of this section do not apply to motorcycles without insignia.

(z) The riders of these motorcycles may don gold helmets so as to dupe motorists into believing that they are the real thing.

27605 No person shall own or operate a motor vehicle painted in a manner to resemble a motor vehicle used by a peace officer. The provisions of this section do not apply to motorcycles without insignia.

(z) The riders of these motorcycles may keep the large sidecases and sit smartly erect so as to dupe motorists into believing that they are the real thing.

 

Windshield

26700 A passenger vehicle, other than a motorcycle, and every bus, motortruck or truck tractor, and every firetruck, fire engine or other fire apparatus shall be equipped with an adequate windshield.

(z) Motorcycles may be equipped with inadequate windshields.

 

Stay up to date...Check your own state and loco laws.

 

Lifted from Zina @ http://www.ducatigirl.com :Feet-Up[1]:

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  • 2 weeks later...

Loco Dude, You have waaaaaaaaay too much time on your hands or you don't sleep much

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